Today, Sharron Frontiero, with white hair, recall the day more than 40 years ago.
The United States in the 1970s was a period when the US Air Force vigorously recruited women. Inspiring sentences were often written in advertising slogans:
“Who said that women should be restricted to a three-point line of life, don’t you have no choice as a woman? Join the US Air Force, you can also explore the world!”
At that time, Frontello, who had just graduated from university, was eager to achieve economic independence, so she joined the US Air Force. In addition to finding a job, she has another good news: she is going to marry.
A new job, a new life, everything is brand new to Frontiero in her early 20s.
Frontiero in her youth
However, the reality is not as exciting as the advertisement says. Soon after joining the job, Frontiero discovered an unfair phenomenon: male colleagues around, as long as they get married, can get housing allowance. And she cannot get this allowance, just because of her gender.
After learning of this news, the naive Frontiero thought “it was just a mistake made by the administrative staff.” When she walked into the finance room, she received a blow:
“You have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the army. The Air Force can accept you to serve, you should feel lucky.” The financial officer said coldly.
Frontillo found a lawyer. The lawyer pointed out the problem sharply: This is not an administrative error, but a legal error. At that time, hundreds of provisions in the laws of the United States all contained serious sex discrimination:
The law that entered into force in 1970 stipulates that:
Employers in most states can legally dismiss pregnant women for pregnancy.
The bank requires that when women apply for credit, they need to get the signature of their husbands.
It is generally believed in society that men are the breadwinners, while women are only saving pocket money if they join the workforce. To change all of this, it must be corrected through litigation.
At the time, RBG worked as a feminist lawyer in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and she accepted the case without hesitation. In her view, the Frontillo case can promote legal changes because she represents the dilemma faced by women across the United States.
The court session was in the afternoon. This was not only an important day in the life of the young girl Frantiro, but also an important day in the life of RBG-because this time, it was her first defense in the Supreme Court. Because of being too nervous, RBG did not eat lunch at noon.
She recalled that the Supreme Court was solemn and high-status, but what impressed her most was the portraits on the wall: they were oil paintings of American judicial leaders. They came from different eras, but they had one thing in common—they were all men.
“I was very nervous, but when I looked up and looked at the judges, I thought that I had an impatient audience.”
RBG used sharp and calm language to sort out the various languages that have treated differently by women in the United States since the founding of the United States: “Husband is the master of the family”, “Women must obey him unconditionally.” She told the male members of the court. It precisely explains what it’s like to be a “second-class citizen”
“I realized that I was speaking to men, and they were not aware of the existence of gender-based discrimination. My strategy is to make them understand that this is real discrimination.”
In the end, Frontillo received a call from the reporter at home and won. Frontillo won her security deposit, and RBG won the first lawsuit in her life.